Manistee, Ludington area doctor creating new sports bar, restaurant

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For Dr. Andrew Riemer, providing clear vision is just as important in his pursuits outside medicine as it is in his work as an ophthalmologist.

Riemer, known locally from his work at the Riemer Eye Center, sat down for an interview with the News Advocate in the Biergarten at Stix. Stix is a restaurant and bowling alley in Ludington that Riemer redesigned and rebuilt.

A little over a year has passed since the grand reopening, and the parking lot was packed with vehicles.  

In the outdoor space, adults gathered around the open air-bar and sipped drinks next to fire pits. Riemer pointed out that he’s included ample space in the Biergarten for both grownups and children.

“What I love about it the most is my grandkids will be here. They’ll run around and play on the rocks and in the sand … Stix is very family oriented, even with the concerts we have here,” he said.

A Ludington native, Riemer has fond memories of the bowling lanes and local hangout that had been part of the Hamlin Township scene since the 1950s.

When Stix closed during the pandemic, the doctor didn’t want that lakeshore history to fade away.

He purchased the property, not just to revitalize the business, but to make it a destination.

“When people go to Ludington, they’re going to have the car ferry, the state park and Stix,” Riemer said.

Cooking up plans

Riemer was introduced to the restaurant industry at an early age. He worked at a 108-seat downtown restaurant for $2.35 per hour while in high school.

“I was the evening cook. So after school, I would work until closing about five nights a week … I learned a lot, so when this opportunity came up, I thought well, I kind of get it,” he said.

Riemer explains that the restaurant business has changed tremendously since his high school days. Yet the experiences he gained in that kitchen so many years ago gave him the confidence to take on the adventure of becoming a restaurateur. 

These days, Riemer has his sights set on a new project. AndyS, a multi-level sports bar, restaurant and music venue, is slated to be built on the former site of Michael’s Bar and Grill in downtown Ludington.

Michael’s closed in 2018 and when Riemer acquired the building, he was already familiar with the challenges of older structures. At first, he was hopeful part of the building could be salvaged.

“We looked at it and said, ‘Is there any way to save these walls?’ And the answer was ‘no,’” Riemer said.

After the building was demolished in 2022 due to safety concerns, the plan was to do a quick rebuild. However, engineering considerations and the high water table caused delays in finalizing the blueprints.

In the end, Riemer and the design team settled on the idea of a two-story, mezzanine-style complex much like Stix.

“There’ll be a 20-foot tall digital video wall behind a stage that you can see from both levels. So you can have bands, you can have comedy, you can have theater, dancing … along with the Super Bowl on the biggest screen you’ve ever seen,” Riemer said.

Plans include bars on each level and a private dining area, but Riemer was most excited to talk about how family and fun fit into AndyS. One section will include indoor sports simulators that can be used year-round.

“You can do basketball, you can do soccer, hockey, baseball … it’s going to have all those opportunities to play. So you can get kids who want to kick a soccer ball and you can have serious adults who want to know the speed and angle and pitch of the golf ball with this chip,” Riemer said.

Customers gather in the Biergarten at Styx in Ludington. The bar/restaurant/bowling alley was purchased and rebuilt by ophthalmologist Andrew Riemer. 

Customers gather in the Biergarten at Styx in Ludington. The bar/restaurant/bowling alley was purchased and rebuilt by ophthalmologist Andrew Riemer. 

Chrissy Streeter/News Advocate

From vision to reality

The construction company estimates that AndyS will take 18 months to complete, with cement for the foundation to be poured in August. Riemer believes that the build could take up to two years because construction is “never on time.”

Suzanne DeMott first started working with Riemer nine years ago and oversees all of his business endeavors. DeMott points out that construction is never on time due to the Andy Riemer factor.

“As he builds, he’s always trying to improve, always trying to make everything better,” she said.

While attending medical school, it was always Riemer’s intention to return to his hometown. In 1997, he opened his first practice in Ludington. Ten years later, Riemer Eye Center expanded into Manistee. In 2017, an office was opened in Cadillac.

DeMott explains that Riemer works to keep costs low for his patients while ensuring they are provided the best vision with the latest in new optics and technology. She sees common threads that run through Riemer’s work in medicine and says these same threads run through his passion projects across Mason County.

“It’s all about creation … and making things better. So whether it’s your vision, he makes it better. If it’s an old stick building, he’s made it better. He takes something that needs love and makes it become something you could never imagine,” DeMott said.

During the housing market crash, Riemer purchased and restored a number of residential properties and turned them into long-term and short-term rentals. He also offered a home to West Shore Community College’s law enforcement and first-responder programs, a facility that opened in 2019.

The Riemer Regional Public Safety Training Center houses the college’s police and corrections academy, criminal justice, emergency medical services, and emergency telecommunicator programs.

Riemer sold the 21,900 square-foot building on U.S. 31 in Free Soil to the college and donated 100% of the purchase price back to the school. He also established an annual scholarship program for the next 10 years. 

“I wanted local people with families to be able to afford to go to the academy and still stay local … The students that go through there are some of the most grateful people that I’ve ever had the chance to meet.” Riemer said.

He said that he feels blessed in many ways and is grateful for the help he received from so many.

“When you step back, you employ a lot of people who support a lot of their families. … That’s nice to really give people a career in a small town that they grew up in — that I grew up in,” Riemer said.

Dr. Andrew Riemer plans to build AndyS at this empty building site pictured in downtown Ludington. There, he is planning to create a new sports bar, restaurant and music venue. 

Dr. Andrew Riemer plans to build AndyS at this empty building site pictured in downtown Ludington. There, he is planning to create a new sports bar, restaurant and music venue. 

Chrissy Streeter/News Advocate

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